Have you ever wondered why some people appear to be more successful than others? They get better jobs, have better careers, they sell more, and they seem to be more popular. Quite frankly, it looks like they have a better lives. Certainly timing and being at the right place at the right time, has something to do with it, but the key to success is really how skilled they are at networking.
1. Be a Pal – It Pays Off
‘To give and to receive’ is a law that every networker lives by and it is the basic concept of networking. Relationships are built on mutual generosity and networking is about win-win relationships. Do not keep score. Good networkers help each other out with advice, tips, and referrals, without immediately expecting something in return. A mutual and beneficial relationship is not a competition about who gives the most tips. If you are generous, people will remember you, and what goes around, usually comes around. By giving business to others, you will get business in return.
2. Mingle With a Mission
Skilled networkers have a solid strategy for how to network. The know why they want to network, what their purpose is, what their needs and goals are. There can be different goals for why you need to network, so you do not have to stick to one single goal. Your goals will be dependent on where you are in life and in your career. Today, maybe you want to get a new job. Tomorrow, you may need help to find a customer. Make a starting point and find your important goals.
3. Compile a List of Contacts
Start by writing down the name of everyone you know. Yes, you read it right. Everyone. Look through your business cards and your office Christmas card list. List personal friends and acquaintances, family members and do not forget peripheral contacts, friends of friends, your doctor, the bank manager, your neighbors. Don’t be picky, list everyone. The idea is to jot down names of past and present people at work or in your life, people you talk to daily or very seldom. Your entire contact list will probably consist of several hundred names. Great!
4. Find a Filing System That Works
Every single name on your list is valuable, no one is unimportant, even if you think they maybe shouldn’t be on your list. But think connections! Each person can introduce you to at least four or five other people in an instant. If you meet two new people a week, you will have 100 new contacts in a year. Find a smart filing system to handle your contacts. Use Outook or Excel, or do it manually on separate contact cards. Use one card for each name on the list, so that you also have some space to write down some details and information about everyone.
5. Weed Out and Prioritize
Rank all contacts based on how well they fit your business or personal goals. Not every contact will be important, but include them in your contact list anyway. Ask yourself: what can I give this person? What do they appreciate me for? How can this person help me. Group each contact into four groups: A-group – VIP contacts, B-group – everyday business connections, C-group – people you only have sporadic contact with and D-group – people who are grabbers, who only come to you when they want a tip, or people who are energy drainers, who suck the life out of you or people you just don’t like, for one reason or another.
6. Avoid Grabbers
It will happen. There are people who will exploit you and do anything to get current information, glowing references, or new contacts, that will help them further towards their goals. They do it without actually ever giving anything back. This person has clearly not understood what networking is about. They will never understand what it means, to give and to take. You will eventually get to know the pattern of a grabber, so try to avoid them in the future.
7. Find Even More Contacts
The most common reason for expanding your network will most likely be business or career related, so consider joining some business and networking groups, starting a blog, attending events, linking to others on social media. Set a goal to add 3 to 5 new, useful contacts every week. Do not be over ambitious, set your own limits. Also, look through the names of the people in your group B, which probably will be most of your contacts. Your best contacts will be similar to your B-group contacts. Step-by-step you will expand your networking circle.
8. Look for Long Lost Friends
Many times you lose contact with someone. Years go by, and all of a sudden it doesn’t feel easy to renew the contact again. It is hard to make that telephone call: “Hey, remember me?” Especially if that person is a former business contact who might be useful to you, but there is a way. To some extent you have to rebuild the relationship to reconnect. Try social networks. It’s easier to write a short one liner: “I think a lot about how nice it was working with you – it would be nice to see you again! Can I invite you for lunch?”
9. Sell Your Personality
There are many benefits of networking online. You can immediately gain world access to millions of contacts in news groups, forums and on professional networking sites. It is great chance to show your personality. But beware. Make a clear distinction between being personal and keeping your private life private, at least when networking for business purposes. Every post you make, every comment you write, and all your remarks, can instantly be read by everyone. 87% think your internet personality is also your real personality, so keep it professional but friendly.
10. Mix and Match
It is easy to find contacts with the same interests and business background like yourself, within the same age group, or within the same industry. For instance if you are in marketing, it is easy to talk to other marketers, women like to speak to women, and it is always easy to find common ground with someone who works in the same industry. But don’t miss out on a good chance to forge new business relationships and broaden your horizons. Assemble your network of contacts from all walks of life, in order for your network to really benefit your career and your business.
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